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Customized Employment: Conducting Discovery

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This post is the second of four that will go into more detail about the essential elements of customized employment.

As we continue learning more about the essential elements of customized employment, let’s focus on discovery. The discovery process is a great way to really learn about a job-seeker and to best connect them with jobs that align with their interests and skills. Observations and activities help clarify capabilities and help you get to know them as a person.

Discovery activities allow you to create a profile that guides job development, so discovery activities should be targeted and relevant to a person’s employment goals. Keeping discovery activities within a limited time frame helps keep the job-seeker engaged and helps you – as a counselor – develop a profile while activities are still fresh in your mind.

Consider doing discovery activities in a variety of environments including at home.  Observations in an environment where someone is completely comfortable, like at home, can give you pivotal insight into capabilities and interests. Seeing an individual in a familiar environment can decrease performance pressure and allow them to demonstrate behaviors and skills. Interviewing family members, friends and others close to the client can lend insights into a person’s potential.

There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to discovery. Standard activities – like doing a job shadow at a fast food restaurant – could agitate some people or cause an emotional reaction in others. The anxiety of a new environment could prevent them from demonstrating their work potential and discourage them from the idea of working altogether. The goal is to customize discovery activities to align with a person’s abilities, interests, and circumstances.  There is not a prescribed list of discovery activities for everyone.

When conducting discovery, there are several questions for you to keep in mind when deciding what activities to engage in:

  • What information are you hoping to learn about the person?
  • How is the information relevant to a person’s vocational goals?
  • If they don’t yet have vocational goals, how are the activities helping you to define interests?
  • How are your planned activities and observations going to help you with job development?

Focusing your efforts in this way can ensure that discovery is a good use of time for both you and for your client – and will increase their chances to obtain competitive integrated employment.

Essential Elements of Customized Employment (pdf)

More about this resource:

The Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) and the Youth Technical Assistance Center (Y-TAC) are national technical assistance centers funded by the Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) to provide technical assistance and training to state vocational rehabilitation agencies and their partners. The WINTAC and Y-TAC entered into a partnership with Griffin-Hammis Associates, TransCen, Inc., Marc Gold & Associates, and Virginia Commonwealth University to develop a document to identify the essential elements of customized employment (CE) as a guide for the universal application of these elements across service delivery and training providers.

This effort began in response to attempts by VR agencies and other core partners in the workforce development system to effectively achieve competitive integrated employment for individuals with barriers to employment, especially individuals with significant disabilities, as stressed throughout the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the Rehabilitation Act as amended. Representatives from the Department of Labor’s Office on Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and RSA have reviewed and approved the content of this Essential Elements document.

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